His son, Bruce, confirmed his death to multiple outlets over the weekend. Tabbs worked with the UFC as a cutman for 19 years before retiring in 2012 at the age of 80. His final event with the Las Vegas-based promotion was UFC on FX at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., on June 22, 2012.
“Our father is our hero,” Bruce said in a statement given to MMAjunkie.com. “He lived a simple life enjoying it to the fullest and deserved all he earned, and more, and earned all he received. Family, boxing, and friends and laughter were his life.”
Tabbs was also well known for his work in boxing, serving as a cutman for some of the sport’s biggest events, including multiple fights involving Bernard Hopkins. According to mixedmartialarts.com, Tabbs had professional boxing aspirations of his own before he was drafted for the Korean War. During his service, Tabbs was a Navy medic and continued boxing as well as training his fellow serviceman in the Sweet Science. After eight years in the military, Tabbs became a police officer in Philadelphia and continued training fighters.
Tabbs is survived by his wife, ex-wife, three children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews, two son-in-laws, and one daughter-in-law. His passing was recognized by several prominent members of the MMA community over the weekend:
Sad to announce that my friend and “Godfather of Cutmen”, Leon Tabbs has passed away. The original cutman from UFC 1, Leon set the stage for all cutmen to follow. We shared many great moments together and those memories will never be forgotten. pic.twitter.com/mqakTjvNxL— Jacob Stitch Duran (@StitchDuran) June 16, 2018
So sad to hear that Leon Tabbs has passed on. Leon was an original. He was a cutman at UFC 1 and even had a role in the original Rocky. He stayed with the UFC for 20 years! It was an honor to know and work with you Leon. God has another warrior angel guarding his throne tonight— Big John McCarthy (@JohnMcCarthyMMA) June 16, 2018